On October 20th when I heard Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau tell the world “On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back,” I teared up and was surprised that my lingering concerns had been temporarily overpowered by hope.
But two weeks later, those concerns are still with me as I am not confident that our new Prime Minister understands that serious climate action and tar sands expansion simply don’t mix. That’s why later this week I am heading to Ottawa to risk arrest over four days of peaceful acts of civil disobedience. I will be joining Canadians from across the country at the Prime Minister’s residence for a Climate Welcome being organized by individuals and groups across Canada, and supported by 350.org, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition. This action will demonstrate the urgent need for an ambitious and decisive national plan to address climate change.
We’ll be there with two demands. First, we want the government to freeze the expansion of the tar sands, and second we want a commitment to transition Canada to a justice based, clean energy economy — a deliberate and steady plan to move from a 19th-century economy to a 21st-century one. We will be bringing welcome gifts for our new Prime Minister to tell a powerful story about the action we are demanding.
On the first day, we’ll bring scientific reports, economic studies and documentation of treaty violations to show the clear case for freezing tar sands expansion. On the second day, we will bring gifts demonstrating the powerful public support for our demands. On the third day, we will deliver gifts of water from the rivers, lakes and shorelines put at risk by tar sands’ projects, pipelines and tankers. I will be bringing water from the Grand River which is threatened by Enbridge’s proposed changes to Line 9. Finally, on Sunday we will bring hope for our future: solar panels for the new Prime Minister to install as he renovates his new home. This is a powerful symbol of the pathway forward.
I am optimistic that our new Prime Minister will accept these gifts from the welcoming committee each day. I have faith that he will respond to the overwhelming evidence; that he will thank those of us in this action for our passion and commitment, and our concern for future generations; that he will respect the efforts of our Sacred Water Walkers and take action to protect Canadian waters put at risk by tar sands; and finally, I have faith that Justin will give us hope. Hope that Canada will be a world leader in the global transition to a clean energy economy. Hope that we will not just tell that world that we’re back, but that we will unequivocally show them.
Will you join me, in body or in spirit, to welcome our new Prime Minister and call on him to get to work on real climate action?